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The Anxiety Inducing Experience of Updating macOS Monterey

re: Apple Core Rot

I ran the macOS Monterey 12.6.3 updater tonight, on my 2019 Mac Pro.

OMG, what a horrible experience!

The machine powered on/off 30 times or so, rebooted umpteen times, etc. I thought it was in an infinite crash-reboot cycle. My phone (plugged in) was bonging on and off dozens of times as the Mac Pro powered off/on over and over.

It made me physically tense to think that my main work machine looked like 'toast'. I bet my blood pressure rose 20 points just watching this Apple clusterf*ck in progress.

It took so long that I thought my machine was bricked. I was ready to pull the power cord. But in the end after maybe 40 minutes, the Mac Pro finally booted up one last time.

All this for a 0.0.1 update from 12.6.2 to 12.6.3. WTF.

Who designs this shitty experience? No progress, no status, no nothing. It just looks like a machine that is a goner. You have to sit there and hope like hell that it’s all going to work out.

Apple and their engineering suck these days. There is never any pleasure in the experience of some new and useful feature. Invariably it is something worse, something degraded, something made stupider than ever, or some new security theatre “feature” that makes getting anything done hard or outright breaks stuff. Like all the warnings popping up that my installed kernel extensions would all be incompatible soon.

Don H writes:

I know your latest entry at MPG might seem like a mere gripe, but it reminds me of what to expect when I eventually upgrade my own machine. I’m still sitting on 12.6.2 and got an update nag this morning.

I had forgotten how far into the realms of voodoo we have drifted with this process (made even worse with Apple Silicon machines that took away the option of at least following the progress of verbose boot messages). So when I install the update I’ll be sure to do so when I have no expectations of using the machine for an indefinite period while MacOS lapses in and out of its self-induced comas.


Regardless of speed, the complete lack of progress indictors remains concerning, to say the least. I remember in some previous software install the screen remained black for what seemed like an hour, so finally I did a hard shutdown expecting that I would have to perform all sorts of remedial work when I got it booted again. Instead, the Mac simply started up and there was no shutdown alert and the update seemed to install fine. I have no idea if I happened to kill it just as it was about to shut down itself, or if it was hung in some unknown state after a successful install but would have sat there indefinitely with a blank screen.

And as I said, the new M* [Apple Silicon] Macs don’t allow any kind of verbose booting so you can’t even see where it might be hung. “Trust us” is the best that Apple has to offer these days.

MPG: it’s a gripe for sure, but a legitimate one when you understand my recent experience—the macOS Monterey update bricked my 2019 iMac 5K back in October while 1000 miles from home. Only because I had a fully bootable clone of macOS Mojave could I recover without having my iMac be a useless paperweight for the next 5 weeks of my trip. That experience was fresh in my mind.

BTW, if your car fails to start until it warms up for an hour in the sun, is that a gripe? Same class of worry/concern. I think it is a legitimate criticism of a very poor user experience. But I won’t argue with anyone who thinks that indeterminate failure-like operation of anything is just peachy (not that Don H is doing that).

I am not certain, but it seems that the 2019 iMac Pro takes longer and takes more reboots than prior Macs. Maybe the update is faster/cleaner on older Macs? Or maybe it’s just a false impression.

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